Last week I made the hardest speech I have given in the House of Commons. I got up and talked about my life as the child of an alcoholic. My father, Dermot, was an extraordinary guy. The son of Irish immigrants, he was bright, charismatic and chippy. He battered his way into grammar school and university and when he left, he fell in love with the idealism of the postwar new towns and moved us to Harlow in Essex, where in the 1980s he worked his way up to become the council manager.

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